“Friends” Co-Creator Marta Kauffman Shares Regrets About the Handling Of This ‘Friends’ Character

Friends

The hit sitcom “Friends” is beloved by many fans, but it has also been criticized for its lack of diversity. The main cast members are all white. The majority of the guest stars were also white. Yet, the characters were supposed to live in New York city, which is very diverse. Why didn’t the characters on the show do a better job representing the city where they supposedly lived?

One of the show’s creators, Marta Kauffman, has expressed regret about the lack of diversity in casting. She defended the casting decisions at the time the show was being produced, but she now understands that they made a mistake. She told the Los Angeles Times, “I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years. Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago. “

Another mistake Kauffman admits they made during the show was how they portrayed Chandler Bing’s dad. On the show, it is revealed that Chandler’s dad is transgender. The character went by the stage name Helena Handbasket and was played by actress Kathleen Turner.

Turner remembers when she was asked to play the role. In 2019, she told Andy Cohen that she was approached about the role by “Friends” co-creator, David Crane. At the time, Turner was portraying Tallulah Bankhead in a show in San Francisco. She remembers that Crane “came up to see the show in San Francisco and came backstage and said ‘you have to play Chandler’s dad, and I thought, ‘Okay, a woman playing a man playing a woman. I haven’t done that’. So I said ‘yes.'”

Turner admits that although she thought the role was a good idea back in 2019, she would never play that character today. She explained, “Of course I wouldn’t do it now because there would be real people able to do it.”

Casting aside, Kauffman admits that they messed up by referring to Chandler’s transgender parent as “he” instead of “she.” She told the BBC, “We kept referring to [Helena] as ‘Chandler’s father,’ even though Chandler’s father was trans. Pronouns were not yet something that I understood, so we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she.’ That was a mistake.” 

How do you think “Friends” would have been different if casting had been more diverse? Who do you think would play Chandler’s transgender parent if the show were filmed today?